Stadiums & Shrines

 

Trees rustling adraft and agusto as the skies improvise, intertwined in the reeds and soft quavering limbs. Shadows mimic ripples, here against the wall of a home in first light. An apt backdrop captured by the artist and paired for a swaying series of exhales. A single take from the saxophone by this longtime friend of ours, New York’s Bill Gillim aka Megafortress. He plays the instrument with curiosity, his notes curving at free will, serving the air in which these leaves, at ease, sprightly agrooving.

The piece is a solo performance, free of overdubs and light on effects, as per the simple parameters of Instrumental I, the latest Driftless Recordings compilation. The digital release, out November 3rd, also features works on piano, cello, Wurlitzer, and flights of the guitar variety by Zachary Cale, Hayden Pedigo, and more.

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Two projects oscillating, linked by cerulean palettes and Patient Sounds; grouped here today in solidarity with Bandcamp‘s collective pledge to American Civil Liberties Union.

Naps’ recent tape Checking Out Early is a deeply meditative and observant window-side respite. The flutter and field noise of “Work” finds its rightful match in the blinds of its visual above.

Sunset Diver’s new cassette SD is a bright textural bath, fragmented and frothed. In the treatment for “Thicket”, the trio of goggles lock into an oceanic groove that does not go unanswered, for in next sequence (not shown above) they find that “Sunken Treasure.”

Patient Sounds is offering a few special collection discounts for the day, in addition to donating their portion of sales.

(Editor’s note: try playing both videos at the same time).

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Phantom Posse’s Be True, one of the year’s finest albums, is the expression of ten friends, a true collaboration that flows with impressive cohesion. The sound—languid, faded, somnolent—is shaped by Posse’s producer and overall connective thread, Eric Littmann. Since his early releases as Phantom Power (and later as Steve Sobs), Eric has approached home recording as an outlet free of expectations, uploading introspective, stream-of-thought vignettes (roaming guitar, subdued beats, occasional vocals) driven by experience and mood. As those projects matured, they also expanded in scope, documenting not just one artistic path, but the many zigs and zags of the musicians in his orbit. The dynamic came to culmination with last year’s Home, and is perfected on this self-described travel diary, Be True.

Last summer Eric took me on one of his semi-regular night walks around New York City, along with Posse member Thomas Beddoe (aka Cheetah Lamp). There was much to talk about—existentialism, identity, creative process, science (the latter especially fascinating given Eric’s profession and passion)—but our general mode became one of observation… how the city looks when you’ve got the time to really look. Metropolitan qualities romanticized to the point of cliché, often taken for granted in our day-to-day. The hypnotic calm in watching the movement of masses from afar, the muffled sound bites pouring out as restaurants give way to bars, the glow of a billion windows, lights, and signs bouncing off the waterfront. In the span of roughly four hours, we looped around the West Side before crossing the bridge to Brooklyn. It felt like we shared something, difficult to articulate. And it’s just like Eric to compile a little sense from it, sending over two iPhone videos shot low-key that evening, and the words below:

“When Phantom Posse started I was mixing on a pair of computer speakers that came with a 2003 Dell Desktop computer… nowadays we have some better gear and more experience, but everything else is the same. For me Phantom Posse has always been friendship and joy—thank you to everyone who has listened over the years.

It’s ok to be niche; it’s ok to be underground, forever even (-phantom power). Remember who you are, remember where you came from, who made you who you are—oh and be true.”

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Rails

 

Tomorrow Was The Golden Age, a sublime flight—among our very favorites this past year—was for some (including us) an introduction to Bing & Ruth. While David Moore & friends had provided a proper entry point five years earlier. Quietly self-released at the time, City Lake will now see a newly mastered and expanded run this fall via RVNG Intl. The work of an eleven-piece ensemble, this debut album has a more physical (while no less transcendent) feel compared to its successor.

The bright, astir “Rails” presents Moore at piano, underscored by strings, horns and hand-claps. Its accompanying visual, directed by Seba Cros, captures the contemplative trance of train ride, with the outside world flickering alongside.

City Lake is out November 13th, before a string of live dates revisiting the material. Suggested places to go from here: a dream, and a cliffside performance at FORM Arcosanti.

Mother In Comet

 

“Mother in Comet” first appeared in a dream, framing ‘teary eyes in the twilight’ of an English countryside. A year later, the melancholic instrumental receives a stunning treatment here that both compliments the previous scene and invents another entirely. Director and longtime Gem Club collaborator BriAnna Olson kindly provided some words:

“Processing meaning is such a personal practice, and Christopher’s music has a way of feeling both deeply personal and profoundly supernal. He can run circles around a single moment the way a thinking mind replays an event trying to process its meaning. He’s extracting and uncovering… it feels beautiful… it feels tragic… it feels private. That’s where this video piece came from… it is an anamnesis, a revelatory moment suspended it time, where it is absolute and ever-changing.”

Christopher Barnes of Gem Club, added:

“When BriAnna sent me her idea for the Mother in Comet video I was reminded of the examination in a doctor’s office where a ray of light is shined into your pupil–a series of lenses flash in front of your eye–in order to observe the reflex off the retina. Or perhaps an earlier memory of being a child, eyes closed and holding a flashlight up to my eyelid. The warmth of the bulb, the bright glare of white light against pink.

The visual sense depends entirely on reflected light. Objects in our environment reflect light which enters our eye, forms an image, and transmits information to our brain for processing. Vision occurs when this image is electrically transmitted to the brain for analysis and response. BriAnna’s work suggests this process for me—as a visual representation of how the eye captures an image, or how our brain translates an image into a memory.”

2014 LP In Roses is available on Hardly Art. And soon the band will perform with Lower Dens in Christopher’s hometown of Portsmouth, NH.